blue door surrounded by a wall of books

My 2019 Book List {Part 1}

Sep 9, 2019

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I’m a voracious book reader. I read every day. Every one. Without fail. It’s my Netflix, my favorite snack, my guilty pleasure. Typically it’s the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before going to bed. And, during a lunch break, you’ll usually find my on my deck or in my favorite chair with a book in hand. Outside of my faith and primary relationships, I’ve been largely shaped by the books I’ve read.

Since I’m often asked for book recommendations, here’s the list of books I’ve read this year so far. My top ten are listed first, with brief explanations why I enjoyed them so much. The remaining thirty plus are listed in no particular order, and you’ll have to do your own homework on those. Some I loved, some I didn’t. And a few I didn’t bother to list here at all.

A couple notes: First, I have wildly varied taste. You’ll see everything from classics, theological explorations and business books to mythical tales, historical romances and irreverent humor writing. And everything in between. I love books that make me think and books that help me travel. But make no mistake: the writing must be good. Second, a few of these books contain content you may not approve of. I trust you are adult enough to make those decisions for yourself. For me, I believe you can learn something from just about anyone. If I censor everything and everyone I disagree with, sooner or later I’ll be alone and with nothing to read.

Anyhoo, enough talking; let’s read. Here is my 2019 Book List, Part 1. As for Part 2? You’ll have to wait until January 2020 for that one. But this should keep you busy until then (NOTE: This list contains affiliate links. To read my full disclosure, click here):

My 2019 Top 10 Books (thus far):

  1. The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton (historical fiction): Over the past two years, Kate Morton has become one of my favorite novelists. Part of the reason for this is our shared love of England, Cornwall and its history in particular. This novel was different than some of the others I’ve read of hers, but was no less captivating. Her unique story lines, threads of mystery, interesting characters, and complex situations make for a great read. And, as always, I love a story with a solid historical element, which this one has.
  2. The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis (spiritual allegorical fiction): A tiny tome, this one took me two days to read. It sat on my shelf for a couple years, and I kept meaning to pick it up. This summer I finally did. And I was not disappointed. And, I should add, right after reading this one, I jumped with two feet into another of C.S. Lewis’ classic works, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (fiction). I loved that one just as much.
  3. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towels (fiction): Without question, this is one of my top 10 novels of all time. And I’ve read a lot of novels. Towels’ writing was exquisite, his characterizations brilliant. Rarely do I laugh out loud and cry while reading a novel, but Towels’ succeeded in doing both multiple times. Not only did I received a solid Russian history education, I entered into the story of Count Alexander Rostov fully. Initially, I read the book on my Amazon Kindle. But, once finished, I spent a whopping $30 on the hard-cover copy at an indy bookstore in Truckee, CA for my shelf. Yes, I bought the novel even after I finished reading it. That’s how much I loved it.
  4. Dare to Lead: Brave work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts., by Brene Brown (leadership non-fiction): The name “Brene Brown” has become so commonplace in contemporary American circles these days that I keep expecting her books to become less content-rich and compelling. The opposite is proving to be true. Dare To Lead was perhaps my favorite of all her books, second only to The Gifts of Imperfection. I’ve read large sections multiple times and have used her well-researched content with my team and others I lead. It will continue to be a staple resource on my shelf.
  5. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, by Henri J. M. Nouwen (spiritual non-fiction): Originally written as a series of letters to a spiritually searching friend, Life of the Beloved is personal, honest, and absent heady theological language. It’s one of the most accessible discussions of what it means to live a spiritual life, even if the reader is only minimally familiar with Christian language or practice. I originally read this book via Audible, where Nouwen himself reads his words. Then I turned to the soft-cover copy I had sitting on my shelf so I could mark, dog-ear and highlight the parts that most resonated with me. It should not be surprising that my copy is now a highlighted, dog-eared mess.
  6. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, by Lori Gottleib (memoir): I’m a memoirist. Which makes me, at times, a fairly picky memoir reader. It takes a lot to impress me. And yet, this lovely, witty, honest telling of Lori’s story is one of my favorites this year. I listened to it on Audible while sitting in my dining room doing a puzzle (of all things). But perhaps that is the very best medium for reading her work, for she skillfully shared both the pieces of her story as a therapist AND the pieces of her story as a patient. And she did so with care, compassion, and not a little bit of sharp humor. I laughed, I cried, and I didn’t want it to end. And that’s pretty much what I wish every reader of my books said.
  7. Radical Candor: How to Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, by Kim Scott (business, leadership non-fiction): Written by a former executive at Google and Apple, Radical Candor finally gave me a solid framework for learning how to engage in direct, honest feedback and conflict with my team and other colleagues without losing my commitment to kindness, compassion, and sincere care for them as humans. I’ve long erred on the side of holding back feedback to preserve feelings. I am learning—the hard way—that sparing another’s feelings s more about MY comfort, not theirs. And both of us lose with my lack of candor.
  8. The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, by Brennan Manning (spiritual non-fiction): This became one of my many ultra-highlighted books that I will return to again and again. I should not be surprised; it is Brennan Manning, after all. I’m fairly new to my love of Manning’s writing. While so many others have long admired his insights and work, I missed the bus until about 2 years ago. But I’m so glad I finally found another voice to guide my spiritual journey. This is what I love about Brennan: He’s honest, painfully so. He owns his vanity, his ego, his desire for approval, the ease with which he slips into spiritual superiority. And at the end of each confession, he returns to the truth that saves him over and over again: His Abba loves him. Without fail. Without end. His wonder of that fact has sparked my own.
  9. Next Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleeton (historical fiction): This novel surprised me. In fact, I’m not even sure why I picked it up. From the beginning, I wasn’t expecting much, maybe because I’d never heard of the author before and because I wasn’t all that interested in Cuban history. I was greatly mistaken. Having grown up with only the most basic knowledge of the Cuban revolution and America’s involvement, I had no idea the full scope of this complex situation. Although the story is pure fiction, the historical elements kept leading me to long Internet searches into Cuban history. Let’s just say it was time well spent. Add to that the colorful characters, action and tension, and a dash of romance, and I was hooked. I’m already reading the sequel.
  10. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. (non-fiction): This one is a beast, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s hard to overstate the value of this tome, as it functions like a medical-psychiatry textbook for the average person dealing with the fallout of trauma. I originally picked it up as a reference while parenting my youngest three kids (who have a history of severe early childhood abuse/neglect). Little did I know when I started it how much I would need it. As it turns out, serious medical trauma can do a number on a grown adult, too. It took me quite some time to read this one, and I still go back to pertinent chapters and pages and paragraphs on a regular basis. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a necessary and rich one. And it will stay on my shelf indefinitely.

The Rest of my 2019 Reading List:


SPEAKING OF BOOKS, a big announcement is coming next week! Make sure you’re subscribed here to get updates. I can not wait!

QUESTION: What has been your favorite book recently? I need more recommendations. So keep ’em coming!


  1. Allison

    Thanks for sharing your book list! Since you’ve been reading C.S. Lewis, I bet you’d enjoy “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan. It’s excellent!

    • Michele Cushatt

      I’ve heard of it. Good to know! Thanks, Allison.

    • Patty Carlson

      Have you ever read A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson? It is reflections on the principles of ACourse in Miracles, which I have not read…

      I have had it on my bookshelf for years and picked it up recently to read!….I would love your comments after reading it.

  2. Patricia Russell

    Most recently: Undone by Michele Cushatt – clear, simple, word pictures, relational and funny (believe it or not). Michele you speak my language!

    Beginner’s Pluck* by Liz Forkin Bohannon (founder of Sseko Designs)

    Presently reading Resiliece by Lisa Lisson

    • Michele Cushatt

      Ah, thank you, Patricia! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Tammy

    I recently finished The Flight Girls byNoelle Salazar I love historic fiction this is based on historical events of women pilots read it in two days could not put down I laughed and cried and I would read again. Thanks for sharing your list I jotted a few down to my list.

    • Michele Cushatt

      Oooh, sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation, Tammy!

  4. Diane

    The Nickle Boys, The Tatooist of Auschwitz, Becoming Dallas Willard, Heartland-memoir by Sarah Smarsh, Internment,
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Saints and Misfits,

  5. JoAnn

    The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus- had me choked up many times, right up until the end.
    I’m currently re-reading The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. Practical advice to be the best person you can be.

    Thank you for sharing your list! I added them to mine.

  6. Sharon Murphy Dodd

    I have read several of the ones that made your list. A couple others that I really enjoyed were “I’ll Be Your Blue Sky” by Marisa de los Santos and “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman.

    • Michele Cushatt

      I started Beartown, but haven’t finished it yet. And I recently learned about Marisa de los Santos. Adding it to my list!

  7. Alicia

    I remember how much I loved led Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis – I’ll have to go reread it!

    Wish I could add something weighty, but the majority of the time I’m reading what I find for my kids at the library! So my recommendation is The Emperor’s Ostrich, which is a fun, sweet adventure story about growing up and appreciating others. Can’t pass up any of the Lunch Lady series either!

    • Damon J. Gray

      Ha! I love that your reading list is treasures you find for your kids. That’s precious.

      • Alicia

        For a former bookworm who now is surviving trying to homeschool three kids and chase a preschooler, kids books are survival mode for me! A quick enjoyable read is better than no books at all. It takes a certain kind of creativity to express big concepts to children in a way that they can grasp.

  8. Lori T Conti

    Umm I love to read too! Ive jotted a few of yours down ..that I haven’t read. I peruse your older read lists when looking for a new book.
    Killers of the Flower moon by David Grann- Historical fiction regarding the Osage Indians and the FBI. One of my favorite reads this year.
    The Woman in the Window A.J. Finn -intriguing read
    The Lake House by Kate Morton
    The Space Between Words- Michelle Phoenix somewhat historical fiction
    Trail of Broken Wings- Sejal bedani

    Fall of Marigolds is next on my list. Sadly I’ve read or started to read quite a few books that I was intrigued with!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Loved The Lake House. Thanks for the recommendations, Lori!

  9. Bonnie

    Where the Crawdads Sing was my favorite of all the books i’ve Read so far this year!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Definitely a good one. I read that one back in March, and still think about it from time to time.

  10. Joni Meyer

    I’m reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy which is about little everyday decisions that take you to the life you desire.

  11. tamkara

    Thanks for the list! You should also check out “Let your life speak- Parker J Palmer. Awesome book! i read it every year.

    • Michele Cushatt

      I discovered Parker Palmer a couple years ago. Currently reading A Hidden Wholeness.

  12. Ellen Cole

    We have many of the same books on our lists! Having read several WWII Historical Fiction books (We Were the Lucky Ones, Lilac Girls among them), I needed to take a break with some lighter more soul-soothing novels. Also a lover of the UK and Cornwall, I have been binging on Rosamund Pilcher. Have listened in audiobook format, as I average a one hour each way commute. One of my life’s greatest joys is having stories read to me! I revisited Shell Seekers, have just completed Coming Home and immediately started September. Highly recommend all of them!

  13. Kimberli Fisher

    I always love getting your book list! I’ve read some on it and will pick some from it. Thank you!!

  14. Dawn Wilson

    A Gentleman in Moscow! Thumbs up!

  15. Damon J. Gray

    Though I am not a fiction reader, I am about halfway through “Sovereign” because I have found that I really like Tosca Lee’s writing. Loved her book “Iscariot,” and would like to plow through “Havah”

    Just finished:
    – Essentialism, Greg McKeown
    – I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Athiest, Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek
    – Making Sense of God, Tim Keller

  16. Tracy Line

    We have read many of the same books. I just finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and also Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls. Loved both of them, though the latter pick is more literary so many not be for everyone. I love getting new book ideas so thanks for sharing what you’ve read.

  17. LisaD

    Beneath A Scarlet Sky, I loved it. I read it a few months ago and keep recommending this book.

  18. LorettaHeiser

    Thanks for your great list. Loretta Heiser

  19. Patty Carlson

    Did you read A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson? If you do, let us know what you think..

  20. Diana Stafford

    Diana on September 10 at 9:59am
    Love Like That by Dr.Les Parrott

    Great book on loving like Jesus.

  21. Susan Sage

    Thank you for your list, Michele. It’s always fascinating to see someone else’s recommendation and see where it intersects with mine. A couple of books I’ve read or have been reading lately are “Soul Care” by Dr. Rob Reimer and “With” by Skye Jethani. Both have touched me deeply. Irene Hannon has become one of my newest favorite Christian fiction writers. I also read anything and everything by Sarah Sundin and Dee Henderson, and Terri Blackstock. I’ve enjoyed “You Don’t Have to Try so Hard” by…well, you already know! ‘ )

    I continue to pray for you regularly. In a devotional I read recently, the author asked who our heroes are if we have one. I thought for about five seconds and knew it was you because of your persevering/don’t quit attitude and the way you keep your eyes and heart glued to our Father. Thank you for sharing your ups and your downs.

    God bless you, my friend.

  22. Penelope

    Ah, I love booklists! Thank you for sharing 🙂 We have similar reading tastes and habits. I’ve read many on your list but there are a few new ones as well, yay. I’m always on the lookout for new reading material! — being primarily homebound and a passioante reader, I read a book (or more) every day.

  23. Amy Chumbley

    Tattoos on the Heart! I read it at the beginning of each new year!

  24. Pam Anderson

    Thanks for the book list. You are an avid reader!!
    Currently I am reading “The Gospel According to Culture” by Drew Steadman.. He provides a 30,000 foot perspective of the changes we are experiencing culturally. If you have felt like the ground is shifting beneath you, you might find some answers.
    I am a leadership, ministry, personal growth type of reader who is trying to step out of that box. I read The Oracle by Jonathan Cahn this week. It was fascinating.

  25. Debra S

    Finding Lady Enderly Joanna Davidson Politano (Christian Fiction)
    The Lasting Impact of Positive Leadership Stan Toler (Christian, Religion, Spirituality)
    The Winemaker’s Wife Kristin Harmel (Historical Fiction)

  26. Pam

    The Whole Town’s Talking, fiction by Fannie Flagg. My sweet Momma loved Fannie’s writings, I’d never read any of her books. I rarely take time to enjoy fiction…(that’s slowly changing – we all need a break from reality sometimes – to just enjoy!). My Momma passed, her only Sister, my very special Aunt, was taken to the hospital, I was going to stay with her at the hospital & stopped to buy a book to take with me. There were very few books on this W-M’s shelves but…there was ONE copy of this new release – it was there just for me! My Aunt passed a very short time later. As I picked this book back up a few weeks later to finish reading, it was exactly what I needed! It certainly gave me food for thought – brought laughter & tears. And I to this day have “conversations”.
    Enjoy it!

  27. Jennifer Rogers

    Michele – A must read is The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. This book tore at my soul. My heart pounded in anticipation and expectation as the love story unfolded while commingled with the horrors of Jews & others imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. Could not stop reading this book and praying for its heros (& sometimes, when I could look past the atrocities, attempting to understand the motivations & dire circumstances, I was praying for the villains).


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Download a Preview of Michele's New Book,
A Faith that Will Not Fail

A Faith that Will Not Fail is available to order. Get a free preview of the book by filling out the form below.

Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Get the Video Series in Your Inbox

You'll receive one video in your inbox for 7 days.  

Done! Check your email to confirm.

Get the 7-Day Video Series Delivered to YourEmail

You will receive one video per day for seven consecutive days.

Great! Check your email to confirm.

Let's Stick Together

 By subscribing you are agreeing to receive Michele's occasional blog posts, videos and newsletters in your email. Subscribers get exclusive access to her free premium resources.

Yay! Thank you! I am excited to have you on board.

Skip to content